Female genital mutilation or female circumcision constitutes one of the vital challenges confronting the rights of women in Nigeria. Attempts geared towards its complete eradication have remained unsuccessful to date due to the fact that the practice is entrenched in the culture or traditional beliefs of the people. The article sought to address the question whether female genital mutilation was merely a rite of passage or it amounted to a grave violation of women’s rights in Nigeria. A number of justifications have been advanced for the continued practice of female genital mutilation in Nigeria. Nonetheless, the study revealed that the practice, though considered as an initiation rite into womanhood in some communities, posed serious immediate and long term health consequences to the victims as well as violated various human rights’ principles guaranteed under international, regional and national instruments. Thus, the article recommended, inter alia, that the Nigerian government and all relevant global and local stakeholders should adopt suitable mechanism towards the abolition of the practice in Nigeria.
Keywords: Culture, Female Circumcision, Female Genital Mutilation, discriminatory practices, female genital cutting, rite of passage, women’s rights